Copyright Policy

As part of our Christian ethics, the Ohio Christian University (OCU) community is called upon to respect the intellectual property of others. OCU’s policy requires students, faculty, and staff to remain copyright compliant in all uses of copyrighted material and prohibits the use of university computers and networks in the transmission of non-copyright compliant material. Violators may be subject to OCU's disciplinary process, including expulsion.
The below information provides basic copyright law, fair use concepts, and a summary of federal penalties for infringement.
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What Is Copyright?
Copyright is a bundle of laws that, excepting "fair use" exemptions as listed below, provide copyright owners exclusive rights to:
  • Reproduce their work
  • Distribute their work
  • Publicly display their work                               
  • Publicly perform their work
  • Make derivatives of their work
What is Copyright Infringement?
Copyright infringement is the exercise of rights held exclusively by the copyright owner without lawful permission. Copyright owner’s exclusive rights (to reproduce, distribute, publicly display, publicly perform, and make derivatives of their work) are protected under the section 106 of the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17 of the United States Code).

The unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material, including peer-to-peer file sharing (downloading and uploading electronic content), constitutes copyright infringement and may subject violators both civil and criminal liabilities.


What Are the Penalties for Violation of Federal Copyright Laws?
Copyright infringement cases may result in both civil and criminal penalties. Infringers in civil cases may be ordered to pay either actual or statutory damages.
  • Statutory damages may be awarded to copyright owners in amounts not less than $750, or more than $30,000, per infringed work.
  • Statutory damages may be increased to amounts of not more than $150,000 per infringed work if the court finds an infringement was committed “willfully”.
  • Infringers may also be ordered to pay the copyright holder’s attorney fees and costs. 
  • Willful infringements judged as criminal may include federal imprisonment up to 5 years and fines up to $250,000.
Fair use is a legal exemption granting the public limited uses of copyrighted materials for purposes such as criticism, commentary, news reporting, scholarship, research and teaching (including multiple first time classroom copies made by teachers). The fair use statue aims to strike a balance between protecting the rights of copyright owners and permitting uses that promote the progress of science and useful arts. The statue is intentionally flexible. Instead of setting absolute restrictions, declaring what uses are fair, or how much of a protected work can be fairly copied, legislators intended that users consider each of the following four factors to determine if their use is fair:

Four Factors of Fair Use

  1. Purpose and character of the use
    • Commercial vs. nonprofit educational purposes  
      • Courts have usually ruled educational uses as fairer than commercial uses
  2. Nature of the copyrighted work
    • Character of the work (e.g., factual vs. creative)
      • Courts have usually ruled the copying of factual works as fairer than copying creative works
  3. Amount and substantiality of the portion copied
    • The amount copied in relation to the greater whole
    • Substantiality is the importance of the copied portion to the greater whole
      • Courts have usually ruled copying a work's core as unfair
  4. Effect of the use upon the potential market for the copyrighted work
    • Fair Use exemptions will not impact the creator’s ability to profit from their work
What Qualifies a Work as Copyrightable?
  • It must be original
  • It must be fixed in a tangible medium of expression as defined below
A work is fixed in a tangible medium of expression when it is stabilized in a form of documentation allowing it to be perceived, viewed, read, heard, or otherwise communicated. Examples include manuscripts, electronic documents, spreadsheet data, artworks, musical scores, sculptures, email messages, website and blog content, social media posts, even scribbles on paper, or your Facebook wall!
How Long Does Copyright Last?
Copyright duration depends on multiple factors, including, but not limited to, when a work was created and if renewal rights were exercised.
  • Works created before 1923:
  • Works created from 1923 through 1977 are subject to various laws:
  • Works created on or after 1/1/1978:
    • Are protected for the life of the author plus 70 years
Is It True that Copyright Protection is Automatic for New Works?
Yes! Works created on or after 1/1/1978 receive automatic protection once fixed in a tangible medium of expression
  • However, registration of new works with the U.S. Copyright Office is highly recommended because:
    • Registration clarifies ownership
    • Provides a contact for users seeking permission
    • Can entitle owners to statutory damages and attorney fees in infringement cases
What are Public Domain Works?
Public domain works are intellectual properties having no copyright protection. 

What Works Are in the Public Domain?

  • All works published before 1/1/1923
  • Unregistered works created before 1/1/1978
  • Works having expired copyrights
  • Works created by U.S. Federal Government employees as part of official business
  • Facts and discoveries
Are Works Published without a Copyright Notice Protected?
All works created since January 1, 1978, if fixed in a tangible medium of expression, are automatically protected.
Can Database Articles Accessed via OhioLINK and OCU's Discovery Service be Copied, OCU's Discovery Service be Copied, Downloaded and Printed?
Yes! OCU has reproduction rights allowing students, faculty, and staff to copy, download and print copyrighted journal articles retrieved from these sources.
Is Internet Content Protected by Copyright?
Yes! Original website content is fixed in a tangible medium of expression, and receives automatic copyright protection. Fair use exemptions apply. 
Do Fair Use Exemptions Apply to Copyrighted Works Used in Multimedia Projects? Are There Established Guidelines about Portion Limits?
Yes! Yes! Students and educators should refer to the Four Factors of Fair Use when using copyrighted works in their own multimedia projects, and note the below recommended portion limits  proposed by the Conference of Fair Use (CONFU), an initiative of the National Information Infrastructure: 
  •  Video
    • Up to 10% or 3 minutes, whichever is less
  • Text
    • Up to 10% or 1000 words, whichever is less
    • An entire poem of less than 250 words may be used, when limited to three poems by one poet, or five poems by different poets from an anthology
    • For longer poems, 250 words may be used, when limited to three excerpts by one poet, or five excerpts by different poets from an anthology
  • Music, Lyrics, and Music Video
    • Up to 10%, but not more than 30 seconds, of the music and lyrics from an individual musical work (or in the aggregate of extracts from an individual work)
  •   Illustrations and Photographs
    • Illustrations and photographs, unlike other materials, may be used in their entirety within the following limits:
      • No more than 5 images by a single artist or photographer
      • No more than 10% or 15 images, whichever is less, from a published collective work
  • Numerical Data Sets
    • Up to 10% or 2500 fields of cell entries, whichever is less
How Should Copyrighted Content Used in Multimedia Projects be Acknowledged?
  • Multimedia projects must include credits, copyright notices ©, and copyright ownership information from the original source where available
  • Multimedia projects (and accompanying print materials) must include an opening screen notice that certain material are included under the fair use exemption of U.S. Copyright Law, in compliance with multimedia guidelines and are restricted from further use
Are There Exceptions to the "Further Use Restrictions" of Multimedia Projects Using Fair Use Exemptions? 
  • Yes! But, the exceptions of further use are limited to use in portfolios and interviews, such as for graduate school and employment. 
How Does Copyright Infringement Differ from Plagiarism?
  • Copyright infringement is the use of copyrighted material beyond fair use exemptions, without seeking permission from the copyright owner. 
  • Plagiarism is failure to properly cite the work of another, effectively claiming someone else’s creation as one’s own.


Classroom Copies

OCU subscribes to the American Library Association's Model Policy Concerning College and University Photocopying for Classroom, Research and Library Reserve Use. (Permalinks to the document are available to faculty upon request

The Model policy incorporates the guidelines in the Agreement of Guidelines for Classroom Copying in Not-For-Profit Educational Institutions with Respect to Books and Periodicals However, the Model policy recognizes that university faculty may need to copy greater amounts of material, and encourages faculty to exceed the Agreement Guidelines' limits if needed, as long as the use of copied, copyrighted material remains "selective and sparing". Ohio Christian University's faculty should study both documents, referring to the below summary only as a reminder of the Model Policy's main points. 

In summary:

Educators may distribute photocopied material to students in a class under the following conditions:

  • The same photocopied material is not distributed every semester.
  • Each student receives only one copy, which must become his/her property.
  • Copyright notices appear on first page of photocopied portions of material.
  • Students are assessed no fees beyond the actual costs of the photocopying.
  • The amount of photocopied material used, though not restricted to the primary and secondary school standards, should still be "selective and sparing"
  • Photocopying practices of an instructor should not have a significant detrimental impact on the market for the copyrighted work.
    • To guard against this effect:
      • You should restrict use of an item of photocopied material to one course
      • You should not repeatedly photocopy excerpts from one periodical or author without the permission of the copyright owner

Other Guidelines

Numerous Fair Use guidelines have emerged to aid teachers, librarians and others understand and apply the four factors to educational uses. The Conference of Fair Use (CONFU), an initiative of the National Information Infrastructure, produced three guidelines dealing with fair use and the technological issues of digital images, distance learning, and educational multimedia. The report is available at

In summary:

Classroom Video Performance (Showing video is called performance in copyright law.)

  • Must be shown as part of the instructional program
  • Must be shown by students, instructors, or guest lecturers
  • Must be shown in a classroom, or other school location devoted to instruction, (e.g., a studio, workshop, library, gymnasium, or auditorium if it is used for instruction)
  • Must be shown only to students and educators
  • Must be shown using legal copies bearing the copyright notice


The Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization Act, enacted in 2002, governs the use of copyrighted digital resources in online education. Unlike the fair use statue, where the burden to comply falls to the individual, compliance with the TEACH Act requires the cooperation of instructors, IT personnel, and the greater institution as described below:

In summary:

  • The TEACH Act applies only to accredited nonprofit educational institutions and government bodies
  • Educational institutions must institute copyright police(s)
  • Institutions must promote compliance with U.S. copyright laws
  • Institutions must provide copyright information to students, faculty and staff
  • The institution must notify students that course materials may be copyright protected
  • Notifications can be distributed with class materials in course management systems
  • Access to digital copyrighted materials provided for online classes must be limited to enrolled students
  • Institutions must apply technical measures to prevent students from retaining copyrighted digital works beyond the class sessions
  • Institutions must institute good faith technical measures to prevent students from transmitting copyrighted works received as part of online course materials to others


Content limits

While the fair use statue permits liberal performances of both dramatic and audiovisual works in face-to-face classroom teaching, and the TEACH Act is an expansion of previous distance education law; the statue explicitly allows and excludes the following: 

Works explicitly allowed:

  • Performances of nondramatic literary works
  • Performances of nondramatic musical works
  • Performances of any other work, including dramatic works and audiovisual works, but only in "reasonable and limited portions"
  • Displays of any work "in an amount comparable to that which is typically displayed in the course of a live classroom session"

Works explicitly excluded:

A few categories of works are specifically left outside the range of permitted materials under the TEACH Act. The following materials may not be used:

  • Works that are marketed "primarily for performance or display as part of technology-mediated instructional activities transmitted via digital networks"
  • Performances or displays given by means of copies "not lawfully made and acquired" under the U.S. Copyright Act, if the educational institution "knew or had reason to believe" that they were not lawfully made and acquired

Instructor oversight:

The statute mandates the instructor's participation in the planning and conduct of the distance education program and the educational experience as transmitted. An instructor seeking to use materials under the protection of the new statute must adhere to the following requirements:

  • The performance or display "is made by, at the direction of, or under the actual supervision of an instructor"
  • The materials are transmitted "as an integral part of a class session offered as a regular part of the systematic, mediated instructional activities" of the educational institution
  • The copyrighted materials are "directly related and of material assistance to the teaching content of the transmission"  

Copying Music for Educational Purposes

Copyright laws governing music are complex, as they include reproduction and performance rights for compositions and recordings, and a single work may have multiple copyright owners.

Copyrights for compositions, termed “musical works” in the law, include exclusive reproduction and performance rights. The owner of sound recording holds no performance rights, only reproduction and digital audio transmission rights.

Libraries face special limitations regarding the copying of music. Preservation and replacement copies are permitted.  However, making copies for Interlibrary Loan and patrons’ personal study is strictly prohibited

To help librarians and teachers understand their rights, a collaboration of educators and publishers developed Guidelines for Educational Uses of Music (page 7), which was enacted as part of the 1976 Copyright Act.

 In summary:

  • Permissible Uses:
    • Emergency copying
      • To replace purchased copies for an imminent performance.
      • Purchased copies can be unavailable for any reason.
      • Provided purchased replacement copies are substituted in due course.
    • Single or multiple copies of excerpts may be made for academic nonperformance
      • Provided the excerpts do not comprise a performable unit such as a section, movement or aria.
      • In no case more than 10% of the whole work.
      • Not to exceed one copy per pupil.
    • Printed purchased copies may be edited or simplified
      • Provided the fundamental character of the work is not distorted, the lyrics altered, or lyrics added.
    • A single copy of recorded student performances may be made
      • For evaluation or rehearsal purposes
      • May be retained by the institution or instructor
    • A single copy of a copyrighted musical sound recording (tape, disk, cassette) may be made from recordings owned by the institution or instructor for the purpose of
      • Constructing aural exercises or examinations
      • May be retained by the institution or instructor
      • Pertains only to copyrights of the music itself and not to any copyright which may exist in the sound recording
  • Prohibitions:
    • Copying to create or replace or substitute for anthologies, compilations or collective works
    • Copying of, or from, works intended to be “consumable” in the course of teaching, such as workbooks, exercises, standardized tests and answer sheets and like material
    • Copying for the purpose of performance, except for Emergency Copying as detailed in the above Permissible Uses
    • Copying as a substitution for the purchase of music, except for emergency copying and/or academic nonperformance as detailed in the above Permissible Uses
    • Copying without inclusion of the copyright notice which appears on the printed copy


Digital Millennium Copyright Act

The DMCA, enacted in 1998, prohibits the circumvention of technological protection systems. Every three years, the Librarian of Congress revisits the statue to ensure that it is not a barrier to educational non-infringing uses. In 2010 non-infringing circumventions of six classes of works and controls were ruled permissible. The class having the greatest importance to educators is motion pictures on DVDs. Please read the above DMCA document for full understanding and note that the exception itself refers only to the act of circumvention, not the use of the underlying content.  

  • DVDs  - Content Scrambling Systems on lawfully made, and acquired, DVDS in order to copy short portions of motion pictures for incorporation into new works for the purposes of criticism or comment:
    • By college and university professors, and by college and university film and media studies students
    • For documentary filmmaking
    • For making non-commercial videos


Multimedia Projects and Fair Use

Students and educators should refer to the four factors of fair use as they incorporate copyrighted material into their own educational multimedia projects. Portions of copyrighted works used in multimedia projects must be obtained from lawfully acquired source copies.

  • Uses of multimedia projects containing copyrighted material
    • Students may perform and display their multimedia projects in:
      • The classes the projects were created for
      • In portfolios and interviews.
    • Educators may  perform and display their multimedia projects in:
      • Face to face instruction
      • Independent study courses
      • Online classes
      • Peer conferences
      • Professional portfolios
  • Time limitations
    • Educators may use their multimedia projects for 2 years after the first instructional use.
      • Beyond 2 years, permission is required
  • Portion limitations
    • Video
      • Up to 10% or 3 minutes, whichever is less, in the aggregate of a copyrighted video may be incorporated
    • Text
      • Up to 10% or 1000 words, whichever is less, in the aggregate of copyrighted text may be incorporate
      • An entire poem of less than 250 words may be used, when limited to three poems by one poet, or five poems by different poets from an anthology
      • For longer poems, 250 words may be used, when limited to three excerpts by one poet, or five excerpts by different poets from an anthology
    • Music, lyrics, and music video
      • Up to 10%, but not more than 30 seconds, of the music and lyrics from an individual musical work (or in the aggregate of extracts from an individual work) may be incorporate
      • The basic melody or fundamental character of the work cannot be altered
    • Illustrations and photograph
      • Illustrations and photographs, unlike other materials, may be used in their entirety under the following conditions
        • No more than 5 images by an artist or photographer, may be incorporated
        • No more than 19% or 15 images, whichever is less, may be reproduced from a published collective work.
    • Numerical data set
      • Up to 10% or 2500 fields of cell entries, whichever is less, from a copyrighted database or data table may be incorporate. 
  • Attribution and acknowledgment
    • Multimedia projects must include credits, copyright notices ©, and copyright ownership information from the original source where available
    • Acknowledgments can be combined and shown in a separate credit section of the project, except for images used in remote instruction. Images used in remote instruction must bear credit and copyright ownership information on the screen with the image, where information is reasonably available
    • In cases where credits would conflict the educational objectives (e.g. testing) simultaneous displays are not necessary. 
  • Notice of restricted further use

    • Multimedia projects (and accompanying print materials) must include an opening screen with the notice that certain material are included under the fair use exemption of U.S. Copyright Law, in compliance with multimedia guidelines and are restricted from further use.


 Works explicitly allowed/excluded” and “Instructor Oversight” information taken from American Library Association - © Copyright 1997-2013. This document may be reprinted and distributed for non-commercial and educational purposes only, and not for resale.  No resale use may be made of material on this web site at any time.  All other rights reserved.